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 Poliphile and gardens Meeting in Helston
This meeting of all the participants of the Poliphile and Europe of gardens project was held between the 7th and the 11th of May 2003. Helston School were the hosts for this preview of the culmination of the Poliphile project's work.

Catherine Wolstencroft
european institute of cultural routes
Catherine Wolstencroft
23 December 2003
The Poliphile Project

The Poliphile project, funded by the European Union and started three years ago in 2000, sadly began to draw to a close in Helston. The final end of the project will be in June 2003.
The project was started with the aid of The European Institute of Cultural Routes, and joins schools from Germany, France, Belgium and Great Britain, all working on the theme of gardens. Each school has finished different projects, using local gardens and countryside as their inspiration. The culmination of this work has been collected onto a CD-ROM, and the Helston meeting was the first preview of this CD-ROM.

The participants

The meeting commenced with an introduction by Dominique Dorgambide, with thanks to the Helston Host, Danny Gilman and the introduction of three current projects in Belgium. A representative of each of the three projects then spoke.

Presentations by the schools

The first, from the Decroly School was by Gentiane. Here the work is based on the forest in front of their school. This forest is over used, therefore the soil is becoming compacted causing destruction. The project has two parts, the first was to choose and maintain one pathway through the forest and discourage the use of others. The students had to choose the path, and participated in a tree planting scheme in the forest. There unfortunately hasn't been time to finish the tree planting this year, so some will have to wait until next year. The second part of the project is taking photographs and panneaux, and using them with other students of the school for discussion of the work; work completed and future plans.

The next presentation was by Ciney, who are currently hosting the Labyrinth project. The project will run from the 14th of June until the 6th of July. For these three weeks, adults and children alike are invited to explore the mysterious Poliphile Labyrinth, work of the 1500 students involved in the Poliphile project. For all those interested, accommodation reservations can be arranged, but must be at least three days in advance.

The final presentation was made by the Ecole communale de Florée. Apologies were made for Fabrice Magnée, who with regret could not make the meeting. Exercises des styles was the title for their project, a magnificent and inspiring book of the work of all the Poliphile students. 200 pages of poems, drawings, writings, amazing achievements from students as young as eleven. The question of what to do with the book was thrown open to the participants of the meeting, the most popular being a copy for each of the schools, although due to the size and content of the document it proved unfeasible to print copies at the time, especially with the suggestion that there may be some texts missing. It was decided to distribute final complete copies at the Labyrinth project, with the idea of a title being Polistyle, an amalgamation of Style from the Exercises des styles, and Poliphile.
La fete de mai was also mentioned, meetings with artists in nature throughout May. The website for this is


Dominique Dorgambide

Finally, the discussion of the CD-ROM, eagerly anticipated by all. The CD-ROM was previewed, with examples from most of the school shown. A truely impressive piece of work, with all music on the CD-ROM composed with the project. There are explanations, quizzes, the work of the students, all in the original language that they were written so that the students can see and admire their work. There are short texts in English, German and French, but all have been kept short and illustrated with plenty of animations and photographs so that all the nationalities can understand the meaning of the whole CD-ROM. Word explanations are short and easy to remember, often funny and are accessed simply by clicking on the word. Spoken word throughout the CD-ROM tells a story and aids with understanding.
Every person in the room was thoroughly impressed if not overawed. The CD-ROMs will cost 3? each, and the finalities were discussed, whether or not to have a sleeve for the CD-ROM, whether it should be in colour or monochrome. One week was allocated for any remarks and improvements, the time it would take to add the photographs which had been taken whilst in Cornwall.

Helston School Gardens
This meeting in Cornwall also allowed time to visit gardens at Helston School. Organised by a passionate lady, all the work is carried out by disruptive students, students who are having learning difficulties from age 14 to 18. The work in the gardens leads to vocational qualifications and it is obvious that the time spent in the gardens by these students aids them with the rest of their work, as being able to achieve things, and have aims lessens the embarrassment of underachieving in the classroom and so lessens their disruptive behaviour.

All the Helston School teachers remarked on the invalubility of the project, in helping the participating students and the other students too. All visiting teachers were suitably impressed to, at the use of many skills throughout the garden, geography, mathematics and many other subjects. The students have to be resourceful, have to recycle and save money. The work accomplished can only be appreciated by seeing the work, by talking to the immensely proud teacher of these obviously impressive children. However, for the moment photographs will suffice.
Eden Project

In Conclusion
Throughout the day spent with the teachers of the Poliphile project, two things were startingly apparent. The first the impression of Cornwall on the teachers. For most it was the first visit to Cornwall, if not Great Britain. The verdant region, (much helped by the weather) could not fail to make an impact on the teachers. They had visited three gardens in their stay and participated in an annual holiday of Helston, Flora Day. Each having its different charms, the gardens weave a magic spell on all those who enter. One Belgium teacher was heard to remark: "Its no good, I can't take any photographs here!" and when asked why, he replied
"Because if I take one, I will have to take fifty and I don't have enough film!".

The second impression was of the community that had been forged between the participants. The was a note of sadness in the occasion, knowing that the project was drawing to a close. The teachers had truly formed a bond with each other, more than professional. There were and still are friends, each proud of the work they'd achieved individually and together. Hopes for another project ran high, talk of how to maintain their partnership.
Flora Day

Children's Dance

The Midday Dance
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 more infos ...
 other web sites
 Eden Project
 The Lost Gardens of Heligan
 Trebah Gardens
 editorial content
 The Poliphile Project
  Pages from our site
 Eden Project
 Meeting Poliphile
  Programme of the meeting.
 Press cutting
  Cornwall press about the visit.
 media library
 The garden's secrets
 The lost gardens of Heligan


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